MLB Week 9 Pitching Waiver Wire: Is Spencer Turnbull For Real?

NamePositionTeamESPN Own %
Robbie RaySPToronto Blue Jays51.8
Spencer TurnbullSPDetroit Tigers18.6
Yusei KikuchiSPSeattle Mariners41.6
Tyler AndersonSPPittsburgh Pirates30.7
Adam WainwrightSPSt. Louis Cardinals32

1. Robbie Ray | SP | Toronto Blue Jays

It feels a bit silly adding Robbie Ray to the waiver wire list this late into his season, but he’s still at just 51.2% ownership in ESPN leagues! Keep in mind, Ray is still only 29 years old. It feels as if he is older, as he has been around since 2014 and racked up 882.2 career innings. In that time, however, Ray has amassed a career 4.24 ERA, 4.17 FIP, and 11.1 Strikeouts Per Nine clip. So far in seven 2021 starts, Ray has a 3.79 ERA across 40.1 innings to go along with 48 strikeouts and just 10 walks. Be wary, however, as he still is giving up plenty of hard contact and his FIP is sky-high at 5.19. Regardless, he’s getting the job done and pitching for one of the better offenses in the league with Toronto. Until his numbers start plummeting, he’s a must-add.

2. Spencer Turnbull | SP | Detroit Tigers

Am I a little late to the party? When I first jotted his name down, Turnbull was at 16.4% ownership. After the no hitter? A whopping 18.6%. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not Jacob deGrom and I think people understand this. However, there’s enough evidence to suggest that Spencer Turnbull is actually a pretty good pitcher. For starters, at the age of just 25, he now owns a 3.64 FIP in 255.2 career innings pitched in the majors across four seasons in Detroit. While he doesn’t strike out enough batters to put him into an elite status, he does just about everything else right and is pitching well in 2021. His HardHit% is in the 76th-percentile, his Expected ERA is in the 79th-percentile, and his BB% is in the 81st-percentile. His Average Exit Velocity, HardHit%, and Expected ERA are all the lowest they have ever been. He’s currently 3-2 with a 2.88 ERA and 0.961 WHIP across 34.1 innings pitched this season. The best part is he’s slotted to make two starts this week, Monday at home against Cleveland and likely at home against the Yankees over the weekend. While The Yankees might seem daunting, their 3.98 runs per game clip is still below average.

3. Yusei Kikuchi | SP | Seattle Mariners

It’s not often that I repeat players in back-to-back weeks. However, I’m doing it here because Kikuchi is still just 39.1% owned in ESPN leagues and has some promising starts ahead. I know, I know, he pitches for the Mariners and can expect little run support. Regardless, Kikuchi has taken strides in 2021 and has put together a nice little stretch of starts here. Over his last four outings, Kikuchi has a 3.08 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched, finishing with 33 strikeouts and eight walks. During that stretch, opponents are batting just .163 with a .567 OPS. He is still giving up hard contact in the zone, but has been able to limit damage with a lot of strikeouts and limiting walks. Another reason he hits my list is he should get his next start against the Rangers, who like the Mariners themselves, have been no-hit twice this year already and are below average in terms of runs scored per game. After that, while he might face Oakland or the Angels, he will also likely face two of the Tigers, Indians, and Twins in his following two starts, making the next month or so a rather positive outlook.

4. Tyler Anderson | SP | Pittsburgh Pirates

Tyler Anderson is quietly putting together a solid season, as he’s currently 3-3 with a 3.50 ERA and 3.54 FIP through 46.1 innings pitched. We know Anderson is not a particularly special pitcher, as at age 31, his 4.37 FIP and 1.318 WHIP across 503 career major league innings suggests he’s about average. However, an average pitcher, pitching well against solid matchups is the ultimate king of fantasy streaming. Low and behold, that’s what we might have with Anderson over his next few starts. As it stands, Anderson is likely to pitch against the Cubs and then either the Royals or Marlins in his next two starts. If he’s available in your league, as he is in most, consider rostering him over these two starts.

5. Adam Wainwright | SP | St. Louis Cardinals

While Wainwright’s season numbers don’t look spectacular, as he owns a 4.63 ERA and 4.91 FIP across 46.2 innings thus far, they’re a bit deceiving. He still appears to be pitching relatively well for his age, and has had a few ugly starts balloon his numbers just a bit. Of his eight starts in 2021, five of them have been quality starts, while the other three were clunkers. Two of those bad starts came against tough offenses in the Reds and Padres. Looking forward, however, Wainwright is staring down a nice month of matchups. As it stands, he’s likely to face the Diamondbacks, The Indians, and the Cubs in three of his next four matchups (the fourth being against the Dodgers). Much like Tyler Anderson, Wainwright appears to strictly be a spot-starter in fantasy at this point. That being said, this next stretch is when you can likely expect a handful of good starts out of the long-time Cardinals pitcher.

Zach Boeder is a high school math teacher that has a passion for sports and data journalism. Zach received a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Arizona. He currently teaches in Saint Paul and Lives in Minneapolis with his partner Sarah, their dog Dozier, and cat Remy. Zach plans to argue for a very long time that "2020 would have been the Twins' year if baseball hadn't been shut down."

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